Apparently to some people it is. Five days a week during Hong Kong’s lunch hour, a long line forms along the escalator walkway directly above Hollywood Road. On some days the line snakes all the way down the steps to the nearest exit at Lyndhurst Terrace. A sign of the times? Nope, this has been going on for over two years! What’s the draw?
A few years ago the MTR, Hong Kong’s subway system, began offering ‘fare saver‘ discounts in different locations around the city.[photopress:MTR_Hong_Kong_HK.jpg,full,pp_image]
Placing your Octopus card above a sensor on the stand-alone machine registers the card to receive a discount on an MTR ride originating in a specific nearby station.[photopress:Octopus_card_Hong_Kong.jpg,full,pp_image]
For example, the Hollywood Road location entitles you to a $2 HKD discount on an MTR ride originating in Central. (Some discount machines in other areas only offer a $1 HKD savings.) Depending on your timing during lunch (which normally runs from 1:00 to 2,) the wait can average around five minutes or more.
Some genius came up with the idea to send a lone representative to the fare saver machine to swipe everyone from their office’s Octopus cards. That was brilliant, except you now have several offices doing it during lunch time and they clog up what would normally be a semi-smoothly running line. You can spot them standing huddled in front of the machines furtively taking turns swiping Octopus cards, while the line slowly inches forward.
Seeing people queuing for this day after day puzzles me. I understand that the discount adds up, but when you’re working in an office, isn’t your free time all the more precious to you? I suppose I come from a different culture where people abhor waiting on lines. To see crowds trading their time for such a small sum, actually bothers me. What does this say about the mentality of the average office worker? Are they just biding their time at their desk as well?
While the machines are practical if you are passing by at the start of your commute, it seems cumbersome to go out of the way to line up on your own limited time.
If you want to start getting in on the action, go here for a list of all the (twenty-two!) MTR Fare Saver machines.[photopress:Hong_Kong_subway_MTR_HK.jpg,full,pp_image]